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Gov. DeSantis Is Right To Attack Disney. Republicans Everywhere Should Follow His Lead


WRITTEN BY: JOHN DANIEL DAVIDSON | APRIL 21, 2022

Read more at https://thefederalist.com/2022/04/21/gov-desantis-is-right-to-attack-disney-republicans-everywhere-should-follow-his-lead/

Gov. Ron DeSantis

Woke corporations that wage war on families and target children should expect to be targeted in turn by GOP lawmakers.

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News broke Wednesday the Florida Senate had passed a bill to dismantle Walt Disney World’s half-century-old “independent special district” status, an arrangement whereby Disney has been allowed, since 1968, essentially to govern itself. Gov. Ron DeSantis says Disney’s self-governing status should be subject to review, to ensure that it is still “appropriately serving the public interest.”

Good. Disney is reaping its just reward for inserting itself into the political debate about Florida’s parental rights bill, which Disney lost in spectacular fashion. Republican governors and lawmakers across the country should be taking notes. This is how you deal with big corporations that try to throw around their weight and force woke policies on voters and families. You punish them, not just because they deserve it, but also, as Voltaire famously put it, pour encourager les autres.

Disney was no doubt betting that DeSantis and Florida Republicans would do what Republicans have almost always done in the face of woke corporate pressure: simply back down. That’s what South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem did last year when at the behest of the NCAA she vetoed a bill that would have protected girls’ sports from trans ideologues.

Same with Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who vetoed a measure banning genital mutilation and hormone treatments for minors (he was subsequently overridden by the state legislature). Same goes for then-Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who in 2015 infamously caved to corporate pressure and gutted his state’s religious freedom law.

Indeed, at any other time and place, with almost any other Republican governor and legislature, Disney would almost certainly not have faced any consequences for wading into the debate over the parental rights bill. After all, since when do Republicans actually wield power against the enemies of their voters and defend ordinary families from powerful woke corporations? Almost never.

By breaking that mold, DeSantis has set a clear example that other GOP governors and state lawmakers should follow. If a corporation like Disney wants to insert itself in a political battle that has nothing to do with its business — in this case, a fight over whether to prohibit classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity to children in kindergarten through the third grade — then it should be prepared to pay a heavy cost. Simply put, corporations that do what Disney did, publicly lobbying against the rights of parents to have a say in whether their young children are exposed to sexually explicit subject matter, have marked themselves out as enemies of a free people and should be treated as such. If Disney wants to make war on families in Florida, then the proper role of a democratically elected government is to go after Disney with every power at its disposal. Maybe that means they lose tax breaks that were once justified for purely economic reasons. Same for the special status Walt Disney World has enjoyed all these years, governing a 40-square-mile area in central Florida as it sees fit.

This isn’t about the economic arguments, not anymore. Whatever merit there was to the notion that Disney “serves the public interest” before the fight over parental rights has completely vanished. Now that Disney has taken a stand against families and parents, there can be no doubt: Disney does not serve the public interest in Florida, and Floridians owe it nothing.

Conservatives should understand this, but not all of them do. Over at National Review, Charles Cooke has decided to stand athwart history, as it were, and yell: “Independent special district status is complicated!” His complaint with DeSantis is that there was no need to punish Disney over its opposition to the parental rights bill because the bill passed. Disney lost, DeSantis and Republicans won. Moreover, he adds, until a month ago, “Walt Disney World’s legal status was not even a blip on the GOP’s radar. No Republicans were calling for it to be revisited, nor did they have any reason to.”

Did they not? What changed in the last month that might have prompted them to revisit the issue? Could it be that Disney came out publicly as a very real threat to Florida parents who don’t want their second-graders instructed about sexual orientation and gender identity? Could it be that the fight over the parental rights bill revealed Disney as something other than an entertainment brand and Walt Disney World as something other than a beloved family theme park? Could it be, in fact, that this entire affair has exposed Disney as a malign force in Florida’s civic life?

That Cooke can’t grasp this, and instead attacks DeSantis by tediously explicating the particulars of Florida’s independent special districts, shows the naiveté of conservatives in general and Republican politicians in particular on woke corporations pushing extremist agendas. Cooke argues there are lots of independent special districts in Florida, and that Walt Disney World “is unique not in its type but only in its particulars.” Orlando International Airport and the Daytona International Speedway, he notes, have a similar independent status. Why single out Disney?

To ask is to answer. Did the Orlando International Airport or the Daytona International Speedway wage a public campaign against the parental rights bill, and while doing so commit to pushing a “queer” agenda on children? No, they didn’t. Disney did. That makes all the difference.

If the airport and the speedway had behaved the way Disney did then yes, Florida lawmakers should have absolutely punished them. (Thanks to the impending revocation of Walt Disney World’s special status, it’s unlikely the airport or speedway or any other entity in Florida with a similar status will decide to follow in Disney’s footsteps, which is part of the point.)

Cooke further laments that singling out Disney is a mistake because, “Walt Disney World is deeply rooted in Florida’s soil, as a result of agreements the Florida legislature made with it in good faith. To poison that soil over a temporary spat would be absurd.”

But here again Cooke — and really, it’s not about Cooke, it’s about the accommodationist strain on the right that he and NR represent — misunderstands the nature of the fight. This is not a “temporary spat,” as Disney itself has made clear. It’s an ideological and cultural war that corporations like Disney will never stop waging.

For many years now, only one side in this war has been crying “no quarter” before every battle. The other side has pretended not to believe it and surrendered time and again, with predictable results. Finally, DeSantis and Florida Republicans have taken the enemy at their word and responded in kind. Republicans everywhere should go and do likewise.


John Daniel Davidson is a senior editor at The Federalist. His writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Claremont Review of Books, The New York Post, and elsewhere. Follow him on Twitter, @johnddavidson.

Joe Biden’s State Of The Union Previewed Dems’ Fake Attempt To Walk Back Their Culture War


REPORTED BY: EMILY JASHINSKY | MARCH 02, 2022

Read more at https://thefederalist.com/2022/03/02/joe-bidens-state-of-the-union-previewed-dems-fake-attempt-to-walk-back-their-culture-war/

Joe Biden’s ”State of the Union” address clearly marked an attempt by his White House to make their culture war seem like an afterthought. It’s not, of course, as evidenced by the president’s description of abortion as “health care” and his demand that Congress pass the radical Equality Act. But the bulk of Biden’s speech focused on “meat and potatoes,” as Chris Hayes repeatedly claimed during MSNBC’s coverage.

It’s true, Biden dedicated much of his address to Ukraine, infrastructure, the economy, health care, and Covid-19. He earned a robust round of applause with a line that said, “We should all agree the answer is not to defund the police. It is to fund the police.” He touched on guns, immigration, and the environment, but they were hardly his focus. Notably, Joy Reid lamented the absence of Jan. 6 from Biden’s address, arguing it was characteristically devoid of “red meat.” Reid was right to find that balance remarkable. Rather than signaling a shift away from Democrats’ scorched-earth culture war, Biden’s speech signaled a shift away from the party’s strategy of obsessing over identity politics. This comes with an enormous caveat: Democrats cannot and will not meaningfully make any such pivot beyond rhetoric.

Until they’re willing to drop truly radical policies like the Equality Act, it’s all smoke and mirrors meant to distract voters from what they’re actually doing to the culture. Democrats cannot simply pretend the summer of 2020 and the lockdowns never happened, no matter how much the media might help them try, because the party has now spent years committing to inflated definitions of bigotry that would condemn any moderation from their positions. Sure, voters have short memories and the media is complicit. But these definitions are now baked into our institutions. They are ingrained in the minds of a generation. They’re clung to by journalists and activists that Democrats need to please.

Samuel Goldman of George Washington University disrupted the annual flood of breathless SOTU tweets with a great reminder on Tuesday night. “Guys, this speech is not for you,” he wrote. “It’s for D-leaners who disapprove of the administration and these are the lines that worked for them in focus groups. Don’t overthink it.”

That’s exactly right and it’s also why Biden’s “meat and potatoes” tone felt different. From recalls and losses like Terry McAuliffe’s to Biden’s dismal ratings to Covid missteps and brutal new polls, establishment Democrats (and even their allies in the corporate press) are worried enough about their power to start making small sacrifices in the culture war, even if they’re superficial. And they have to be superficial, because establishment Democrats have spent years emboldening the cultural left, so much that small departures from dogma are now treated as bigotry by a vocal minority of their base. While those voices may be a minority of the base, many of them are very powerful, and they can weaponize all of Democrats’ prior cultural leftism against them to level accusations of racism and sexism and all the other -isms over rhetoric alone. See this tweet Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., blasted out to her 900,000 followers after the speech.

Biden’s heavy focus on “meat and potatoes” signaled a cynical but long overdue attempt by the Democratic establishment to convince voters they’re not frenzied culture warriors. Unfortunately for Biden and his party, they are indeed frenzied culture warriors and they’re going to have a difficult time proving otherwise without alienating the radicals they’ve tried so hard to appease. It’s at least good news that voters are rejecting cultural leftism so clearly, even Beltway liberals are noticing.


Emily Jashinsky is culture editor at The Federalist. She previously covered politics as a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner. Prior to joining the Examiner, Emily was the spokeswoman for Young America’s Foundation. She’s interviewed leading politicians and entertainers and appeared regularly as a guest on major television news programs, including “Fox News Sunday,” “Media Buzz,” and “The McLaughlin Group.” Her work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, Real Clear Politics, and more. Emily also serves as director of the National Journalism Center and a visiting fellow at Independent Women’s Forum. Originally from Wisconsin, she is a graduate of George Washington University.

Leftists Are Making Global Culture War Alliances, And So Should The Right


Reported By Sumantra Maitra | DECEMBER 2, 2021

Read more at https://thefederalist.com/2021/12/02/leftists-are-making-global-culture-war-alliances-and-so-should-the-right/

Entrenched leftists within the U.S. State Department are supporting the effort to demote Viktor Orban from prime minister of Hungary, if a report in Financial Times is correct. The Biden administration also left Hungary off its invitation list for a forthcoming international virtual Democracy Summit on Dec. 9 and 10 to which some 100 countries were invited.

“Trump and his enablers and those who invaded and attacked our Capitol, they don’t like the world we’re living in and they have that in common with autocratic leaders from Russia to Turkey, from Hungary to Brazil, and so many other places,” Hillary Clinton explained to MSNBC.

Hungary’s Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó retorted that Clinton’s remarks about the Democracy Summit proved that “the event has a domestic political character, with invitations withheld from countries whose leaders had good ties with former President Donald Trump . . . We need nobody to judge the state of Hungarian democracy as if in a school exam.”

A superficial reading of this would conclude it’s the big bad Central Euro authoritarians complaining about another American-backed regime change, but there’s more to it and this is just the latest connection to a broader ideological war unfolding across the Euro-Atlantic.

The European Culture War

Hungary has been an important point of discussion among U.S. conservatives. Orban’s party, Fidesz, leads a family-friendly conservative government, where women are tax free if they have more than three kids. Orban’s government has also crushed gender studies and other disciplines, defunded universities, closed Hungarian borders to illegal mass migration, stopped LGBT programs targeted towards children as propaganda, and cut down on abortion.

Alongside Poland, Hungary has formed a semi-alliance of Christian conservative central European powers, and has been an example of sorts for Western conservatives. Hungary offers what Sweden does to leftists: an functioning example of what a social-conservative government might look like in practice.

This is drawing attention from liberals and conservatives alike. Rod Dreher of the American Conservative lived in Hungary on a fellowship often writing about it, and Tucker Carlson of Fox News shot a whole documentary for a week from Budapest.

It’s also invited transnational opposition. Germany’s new center-left coalition of red and green parties insisted they will start a full-on culture war with Poland and Hungary while making the European Union a stronger transnational government.

“Countries which do not live up to the EU’s standards should not expect to receive EU money—a clear message to Poland and Hungary. This general approach applies to the United Kingdom as well,”recent analysis stated, adding that the German coalition wants to make it legal for “trans people to self-identify.”

Meanwhile, Belgium and Netherlands are planning to fund abortion across Poland and Hungary, which limit the practice. “The Dutch parliament adopted a resolution approving the use of state funds to help Polish women obtain abortions, reports Deutsche Welle… The decision follows a similar move in September by Belgium, whose government agreed to provide funding for women in Poland to obtain terminations abroad, as a growing number have done since the near-total abortion ban was introduced,” according to a report.

Just to take one example, consider the implications of Germany allowing self-identification of transgenders, a process that fundamentally goes against biological reality. Given the Schengen borderless mandates within the EU, German transgender individuals could travel everywhere and use their EU special protections to undermine individual national policies about transgenderism, as well as the religious traditions of Hungary and Poland, which are stricter (and, one can say, more democratic) about such rules.

That likely sequence further indicates these countries are not “liberal democracies” (the key word here being liberal), opening them up for further charges of growing authoritarianism, and further clashes in EU courts, the rulings of which are increasingly considered superior to national democracies and lawmaking. In the past that has resulted in the EU clashing with Poland over fossil fuels and with Hungary over LGBT legal preferences and national courts.

Intellectual Compatibility Across Borders

The Polish conservative government, as well as Orban, bear similarities to the socially conservative section within the Republican Party, which consolidated under Donald Trump with increasing exchanges of intellectuals and conferences. The left’s reaction to that ascendence of social conservatives across the globe was therefore somewhat expected, given the new Biden administration staffed with Hillary-era culture warriors. The culture war is transnational, and the battle lines being drawn are naturally ideological as well. On one hand, there’s evangelical internationalist liberalism, which is imperial in nature and is therefore clashing with localist reactions from Virginia schools to villages in Hungary.

“Hungarian-American relations were at their peak during the Trump presidency,” Szijjarto of Hungary also noted when the FT reporter asked why Hungary was the only EU country left out of the planned Democracy summit by Joe Biden. “We have a great deal of respect for the former president, a respect that is mutual. We give the same respect to every elected U.S. president — regardless of what we get in return — but it is clear that those who were on friendly terms with Donald Trump were not invited.”

Hungary was the only country in the EU to be snubbed even when the U.S. State Department coyly added that that was not the case. “As an important part of our bilateral agenda, we continue to press our Hungarian counterparts when we have concerns about developments that erode space for independent media and civil society, curtailed LGBTQI+ rights, and undermined judicial independence,” the State dept said, according to FT. Within hours of its report, someone leaked an old speech of one of Orban’s closest allies that heightened political tensions in the nation.

Democracy Isn’t the Issue; Sexual Chaos Is

Ultimately, however, there are two emerging questions to ponder. One, the complete hypocrisy of the Biden administration is visible. New Zealand, which is growing rapidly authoritarian with vaccine passports, second-grade citizenships, and lockdowns, is invited, but not Hungary, where people can move freely. The undertone of this decision is not lost on conservatives across Europe and possibly the United States: it is not about democracy at all, but about liberalism and sexual rights.

Are Republicans astute enough to see through this, and understand the potential long-term damage the left’s culture war is causing to America’s reputation as the ruling Democratic Party turns increasingly woke, revolutionary, and ideological? Democrats are actively building ideological solidarity and fellowship with other leftist parties across the world, but there’s no such equivalent among conservatives. If it is coming down to a battle of ideas across national boundaries, perhaps cultivating that is something to think about.

The second, and far more crucial, question is: what next for Poland and Hungary and how long can they survive within an openly hostile EU? The combined GDP and manpower of the four conservative central V4-Euro powers led by Poland and Hungary can compete with Germany and France. But at translating that into power, hard and soft, there’s no visible effort of unity.

France and Greece, for example, recently made a bilateral treaty that consolidated their foreign policy into one. There’s no such treaty between Poland and Hungary, or one alongside the UK, for example. Nor is there any visible effort of promoting a socially conservative order across Europe even when the situation is ripe with right-wing voters opposed to a leftist social revolution feeling increasingly voiceless, especially across Northern Europe.

Glimpses of that ideological movement building were once seen in an Orban speech asking Christian refugees from Europe to head to Hungary: “Of course we can give shelter to the real refugees: Germans, Dutch, French, Italians; scared politicians and journalists; Christians who had to flee their own country; those people who want to find here the Europe that they lost at their home,” he said.

If Orban wins re-election this time, against the odds, will we see the consolidation of a conservative bloc right at the heart of Europe? Because the days of hedging might soon be over. When the world turns binary, fence-sitting is usually no longer an option.

Dr. Sumantra Maitra is a national-security fellow at The Center for the National Interest; a non-resident fellow at the James G Martin Center; and an elected early career historian member at the Royal Historical Society. He is a senior contributor to The Federalist, and can be reached on Twitter @MrMaitra.

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